With the final meeting for 2022 tonight, the agenda for the Key West City Commission is relatively heavy.
Sam Kaufman, Key West City Commissioner, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about what’s been going on in the city.
The meeting tonight will be held at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
There are 43 applicants for the city manager position in Key West.
Kaufman said, “I recognized several names, but by far, I would say at least 35 or more of the names I just did not recognize.”
The city attorney has resigned and his term will end at the end of the year. The mayor and several commissioners have asked for an interim city attorney.
Kaufman said, “It’s a time where we really need to focus on strengthening our leadership team. Members of the public I think all understand that the city commission and the city cannot function without a city attorney. We have to have a city attorney to review contracts, to advise on our regulatory systems, in our forming policy and lead us in all litigation that the city’s involved with. So it’s a critical position. I want to hear tonight what the plan is for the interim position, but really the focus needs to be on the permanent replacement of our city attorney.”
The commissioners will also discuss a $4 million ask from the Monroe County Land Authority for funding in the construction of safe workforce housing at the Lofts at Bahama Village.
Kaufman said, “It’s a very important item to make 14 of the units truly affordable and not be listed at the price of $700,000 or $600,000 for those 14 units. I think it’s critical that we approve this item, but it is extremely disappointing that we have to do so. We have a situation where $4 million of taxpayer dollars which was not foreseen by the request for proposals and some of us warned the city that there would be unforeseen consequences such as this. It’s too bad that we have to spend $4 million, but really the city has no other choice.”
What happened was the request for proposals called for an even division of the much lower cost building units. Fourteen of the units are at the lower cost and the RFP mandated that 50 percent of the units be above the median, which is 100 percent of what would be considered affordable housing for income limits.
Kaufman said, “So the numbers just came out for the developer at this very high rate of a set sale price of $600,000 per unit, which really no one deems as affordable. The problem is that if the city does not lower the price by subsidizing the construction, basically providing an additional $4 million to the outside developer, then these prices would have to remain the same at $600,000 or more and it just would not make sense otherwise. I support the item, but I’m disappointed that it had to come to this.”
The funding would come from the Land Authority Fund, which is the 12.5 percent bed tax from hotels and airbnbs.
Kaufman said, “It’s still tax dollars. It’s still coming from those local owners of properties that pay their bed tax and so the $4 million could be used for any other affordable housing project. Think about how many units that could pay. There’s a whole lot of dollars that are needed for the housing authority scattered sites. It’s unfortunate, but listen, we have to make the 3.2 project at Bahama Village and Truman Waterpark successful and without spending this $4 million it won’t be successful.”
The homeless memorial observance will also be discussed tonight.
Kaufman said, “I’ve been involved with the homeless memorial ceremony that we do the Friday closest to the longest night of the year, which is December 21.”
The ceremony will take place at the Key West Cemetery at 3 p.m. on Friday, December 16.
Kaufman said, “Everyone is welcome and invited to attend. We honor and read the names of all homeless people who have passed away this year in Monroe County. Typically it’s between 70 and 80 people.”
The event has been sponsored for decades by the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition.
For the agenda for tonight’s meeting, click here: http://keywest.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1059264&GUID=CCEB1E31-341B-4E28-B7FD-9212F822A4E2&Options=&Search=